When my partner and I got married ten years ago, we decided to get tattoos instead of wedding rings. We each got half of a circular symmetrical tribal design that we liked. The design didn’t have any other intrinsic meaning. It was just something we could both agree we wanted permanently etched on our left wrists.

Earlier this year, as we started planning for a party to celebrate our anniversary we considered whether we would want to get a tattoo together again to mark this milestone. I had a particular concept in mind for a tattoo that was seemingly unrelated to the occasion, but I didn’t have a design. She felt that her next tattoo would be of a design she’s had ready for years. We recognized that we could each get the tattoo we wanted, and didn’t necessarily need to get the same thing for it to be momentous. In this case they would’ve marked the occasion in a different way than having matching tattoos does, but neither of us thought that it was important to move forward with getting these done prior to our party.

The idea I had in mind was an image of a flaming heart to symbolize Fierce Vulnerability. I’d decided to get this tattooed on my inner left forearm as a constant reminder to practice Fierce Vulnerability in each moment of my life. I knew I wanted the flames to be purple, since it’s a color my partner and I both favor (we were sometimes referred to as the Purple People in our past). I also wanted to represent the Violet Flame, which is a spiritual tool of self-transformation with the qualities of mercy, forgiveness, freedom, and transmutation believed to help healing, improve relationships, and support spiritual growth. Other than that, I didn’t have a solid sense of what the heart or flames would look like.

At the beginning of May, I decided that I wanted to start working on the design with a friend of mine. I perused the internet to find images to offer as examples of what I liked so that we had something to start from. When I showed them to Stacy the following day, there was one particular tribal heart design that we were both enamored with. I positioned a separate image of flames over it to get the full effect, and she told me that if I was going to get that one, she wanted it too! This made me very excited. Suddenly, the idea of getting matching tattoos for our 10-year wedding anniversary was back on the table, AND we had a design!

I believe that often times when something is meant to be, a clear path to achieve it is laid before us. I moved quickly to make our tattoos happen, partly because I was really eager and I tend to be impulsive when I want something, and partly because we wanted to get them far enough in advance of our party at the end of May to allow them time to heal. We developed a short list of tattoo artists after doing several hours of online research and querying friends for recommendations. When I called the second guy on our list (the first didn’t answer), he happened to be in the shop on a day he doesn’t normally work, and he had just received a cancellation opening up a time later in the week that we could make work with our schedules. In my excitement I overlooked an important call on my work calendar that I was supposed to be on at the same time I was scheduled to get tattooed. However, the meeting organizer sent a cancellation the day before, bringing it to my attention at the same time that the conflict was removed. This was totally meant to be! Stewart at Old Crow was great, and we had beautiful new matching tattoos within a week of finding the design and moving forward with it.

What started as a design that already had deep meaning for me took on even more with this development. I have a visible reminder to live my life by the principle of Fierce Vulnerability and, along with our original wedding tattoos, Stacy and I now also share a heart.